Athletic Club finally broke their trophy drought 40 years after a grueling 120 minutes of play against a resolute Mallorca. The winner was decided in a penalty shootout.

In the 21st minute, Dani Rodriguez put Mallorca ahead in front of a packed La Cartuja, but Athletic tied just after halftime thanks to Oihan Sancet.

The one bright light for Bilbao in the first half was Nico Williams, who hit the crossbar once and once shot into the side net.

Therefore, it came as no surprise when he helped set up the equalizer in the second half’s nick of time.

Despite Athletic’s best efforts, the Pirates’ dogged defense prevented them from scoring again. Thus, without any further goals, the match went into overtime and then to penalty kicks.

As soon as the game went into penalties, the Mallorcan players rejoiced as if they had won. After all that resistance, they suddenly claimed to be immune to spot kicks—but they were mistaken.

How did both teams fare during penalties?

The 2003 Copa del Rey was Mallorca’s sole previous title, and they were trying to add another one. On their behalf, Vedat Muriqi scored the first penalty kick. Unfortunately, it seemed unfair that he was the one who ended up on the losing end.

This is the first time Bilbao have lifted the trophy in 40 years
This is the first time Bilbao have lifted the trophy in 40 years

This is the first time Bilbao have lifted the trophy in 40 years

Athletic, meanwhile, scored four goals in a row thanks to penalty kicks that were executed flawlessly. Ernesto Valverde, a former Barcelona manager, has guided the team to great success this season.

This victory would cap off an impressive campaign in which they are battling for a spot in La Liga’s top four.

For Athletic, Raul Garcia scored a goal and they maintained the score tied when Julen Agirrezabala stopped a kick by Manu Morlanes. Then, Iker Muniain put the Basque side in the lead, as Nemajnja Radonjic failed to convert his kick.

Later, despite falling, Mikel Vesga managed to find the back of the goal with his shot, followed by Antonio Sanchez who scored to keep Mallorca in the game. The trophy, however, went to Athletic when Alex Berenguer buried his.

Thus, in their 40th appearance in the Spanish Cup final, Athletic finally achieved their long-awaited goal. They have had to wait a long time for their triumph, most recently losing twice in a row in 2020 and 2021.

Athletic, the fourth-oldest club in Spain, has a distinctive concept of only playing players of Basque ancestry. They are the second-highest title winners, having won the competition 31 times.

Mallorca congratulate their opponents

Ending their 40-year drought, fans celebrated the team’s 24th Copa del Rey triumph and the first since 1984.

Since 2012, when they lost the Europa League final against Atletico Madrid, Athletic have endured years of heartbreak. They had previously lost six straight Spanish Cup finals.

Bilbao are one of three Spanish clubs—along with Real Madrid and Barcelona—that have never been relegated. “The first thing I have to do is to congratulate Athletic and its fans. They have been waiting a long time for this.

“I am moved because I am very proud of my teammates and our supporters who accompanied us. Our dream was to win this cup. We tried to, but it wasn’t to be”, said Mallorca’s only scorer, Rodriguez after their defeat.

Photo credit: IMAGO / Samuel Carreno